Last week, I attended Microsoft’s Global High Tech Summit in San Jose to give folks an overview of Dell’s experience since we tried to enter the conversation. I tried to talk about some of the progress we’ve made in the digital media space, the challenges we continue to face and what I think it means to companies in the future.
Participants were made up of business leaders and executives. Lots of smart folks like Geoffrey Moore who spend a lot of their time talking to other companies about innovation.Then there was me. I might have surprised a few folks, because I was pretty straightforward about some successes we’ve had and some of the improvements that I know we still need to make. Frankly, I could have done a better job with the presentation, but here’s some points I tried to make:
Any company can say they listen to customers. Many of those same companies are thinking about launching a blog, or forum, or the next IdeaStorm. I think that in itself is a good thing. However, companies should be careful to ensure that these things don’t just become checklist items. Launching these things is the easy part. Maintaining it and supporting the community is where the real work starts Integrating the customer feedback that results from these to make real business changes on behalf of customers is what will make you successful. Companies that don’t figure out how to do that will probably fail, and they will fail publicly.
Integrating that feedback is challenging, and that’s an area where I know Dell needs to do better as a company. We need to get better at what I call connecting the dots. The reason why companies should be thinking about digital media is because these tools connect you to your customers. That’s why the Dell Community Forum, Direct2Dell, IdeaStorm and our blog outreach initiatives beyond Dell have become early warning posts. In my mind, we should be taking the customer feedback that comes from digital media tools and comparing it to things we’ve been analyzing like the top call drivers and top issues in online tech support chat sessions. We have lots of work to do on this front and it will only become more challenging as we add more languages to the mix. Many folks here at Dell are thinking about how we take that next step.
One of the highlights for me was listening to Pete Thompson, who is the GM of Microsoft’s Surface Computing division. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s like a coffee table with a clear display. Kinda like an iPhone plus the ability to interact with real objects like a cell phone, an MP3 player or digital camera. Amazingly cool technology, and one that I think will open up lots of possibilities in the future. If you want to see more, take a look at this article and video from Popular Mechanics to see what it’s about.This video is similar to some of the functionality that Pete showed off.
Man, was I bummed I didn’t have my camera in that session. Cool stuff.